തര്‍ജ്ജനി

Caste system of Kerala - matriarchal matrilineal society

This discussion was started as a reply to Jay, but under a 'wrong topic and a wrong language' as gust1 wrote. Please see

http://www.chintha.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=15&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=15

For history of thread.

Please see the following text only after reading the contents of above link for continuity.

jay wrote:The traditional Kerala women of Nair community had a place of importance in the system,mainly because it was a Matrileneal community.
But how much freedom of choice did she have? It was the 'Karanavar' who was in power.
Deepak,'Liberation' is many things to many people. About VKN-Most of the times ,his characters,especially female ones are in a surrealistic realm.. like Namboothiri's( artist) Flourishing lines :)

I think Jay is confused between cause and effect.

Karanavar was representing his family in front of other communities, never inside the family.

I would like to know the income source of this specific community. In Indian caste system, every caste and subcaste had (and has up to a large extend) a specific role of satisfying a social requirement, irrespective of the genuineness of that requirement. In kerala, brahmins had the 'business of god', Ambalavasi's were assisting brahmins, Ezhavas were producing toddy (of cource consuming also) and doing miscellaneous agricultural related jobs, Karuvans were producing iron tools, Pulayas were the Karshakathozhilalikal etc. Coming out of Hinduism, Christians and Muslims had very specific roles in society.

What was the role of Jay's matrilineal community in Kerala society. They claim that they were the soldiers and fuedals. But, please note that even sir CP had a military of around only 5000 Nair soldiers while kerala should be having not less than half a crore of them now. Their fuedal history started very recently.

Soldiers and feudals cannot create a matrilineal society as both these systems are primarily patriarchal. Lineage of a system is decided by the source of food (and in modern terms, income) in any society. In our gods own country and Vivekanandan's Branthalayam, Only elder namboodiri was allowed to get married (in social terms). Younger brothers had to find their own ways to satisfy biological needs and this made the rise of a matriarchal and matrilineal society. But unlike similar societies outside kerala, they started to manipulate the power politics and eventually became the most powerful political community of Kerala. It may be worth noting that this is the only matriarchal matrilineal community in the world.

Jay wrote “The traditional Kerala women of Nair community had a place of importance in the system,mainly because it was a Matrileneal community.”.

This is a clean example of understanding effect as cause. Nair community became matrilineal because women of the community had a place of importance in the system, not vice versa.

I don't forget the contributions of this society to modern kerala. But, if dig into these contributions, you will find that these are done by the people who came out of this community and joined in the main stream. As a society, they were always against all the progressive things in kerala. They were against Land reforms, against nationalization, against public education, manipulated Vimochanasamaram, supported caste system; They were always Out-Hereding their Herods – Namboodiris.

Seeing the one and only example of matriarchal matrilineal community, I am desperate to see that the women on power or having direct access to the power always behaves in the same way. We have individual examples from Imelda Marcos - Indira Gandhi – Jayalalitha to the grass root level - our Kerala Vanitha Police. Anybody has an experience to go to kerala women cells to complaint on a women issue? If not, you should go there at least once!!! Are women really concerned about others? Is it an intrinsic property for them to be self centered?

This is a vast subject and beyond the scope of this thread. I just started it and willing to accept all kind of views and criticism. I may be wrong (and I hope if I were). We can consider starting a new thread for this discussion. Print media will never dare to discuss this kind of a sensitive issue as it may burn their fingers. Let's use the potential and celebrate the democratic nature of web media.

Submitted by jay on Tue, 2005-11-29 21:12.

I am not a history sudent who has gone deeply into the various issues touched here...so my comments are just observations formed out of some limited study.
Nair community's basic matrilineal character would have evolved as a result of the 'sambandham'system,where the Namboodiri's held no responsibilty for thier offsprings.

This is a clean example of understanding effect as cause. Nair community became matrilineal because women of the community had a place of importance in the system, not vice versa.

As a society, they were always against all the progressive things in kerala.

Agreed! They are still conservative...have to take a leaf from the enterprising christian community

Seeing the one and only example of matriarchal matrilineal community, I am desperate to see that the women on power or having direct access to the power always behaves in the same way. We have individual examples from Imelda Marcos - Indira Gandhi – Jayalalitha to the grass root level - our Kerala Vanitha Police.

Women in could be as vulnerable to currption as men..don't make angels out of women.

This could be a sweeping statement made out of some isolated inceidents. This calls for detailed study.
Anybody has an experience to go to kerala women cells to complaint on a women issue? If not, you should go there at least once!!!

I am sorry you have got it all wrong about your better half(meaning yin and yang :) ) Deepak.
Hope your understanding grows better.

Are women really concerned about others? Is it an intrinsic property for them to be self centered?

I f I am right,Nairs are not the only Matriarchal/matrilineal community in the world. Some sections of Muslims in North Malabar used to follow the system.
Some communities in North east India still follow it and the status of women are highly evolved in such cases.In kerala,if you forget the rising graph of domestic violence, in education , employment,health,low infant mortality & growth of population, women's status and contribution have to lauded. May be the most significant contribution of Nair community is the above.
Just as our good friend Guest suggested,I wanted to type it out in Malayalam. But since it may take a longer time and may get postponed,again I am turning to Eng.
Hope more people tune in other than we two going on and on :lol:

Submitted by jay on Tue, 2005-11-29 21:15.

I twnated to say 'women in power could be as vunerable...' sorry for the typing mistake

Submitted by deepak on Wed, 2005-11-30 11:04.

there are other matrilineal societies, but no known Matriarchal and Matrilineal society other than Kerala Nair community. For eg. Reddies in Andhra are Matriarchal up to a large extend, but they are not Matrilineal.

It is interesting that Reddies play the same social role in AP that Nairs play in Kerala

As Jay wrote, let this become an open discussion. I just wanted to feed a missing data.

Deepak

Submitted by jay on Wed, 2005-11-30 22:41.
deepak wrote:
there are other matrilineal societies, but no known Matriarchal and Matrilineal society other than Kerala Nair community.
Deepak

This is purely academic

Sumatran Minangkabau community is matriarchal.

matriarchal cultures of the Mosuo in China also need to be mentioned.

Again, the Berber people of North Africa, known as the oldest people of that region, live in Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia. The mother is the "central post" -- the spirit that guards the house, without whom the house breaks down.

Another culture in the town of Juchitan, in Southern Mexico, a city of 100,000, has "strong matriarchal characteristics." They have a "mother-centered" genealogy

Such communities generally have better and healthy gender balance

Submitted by deepak on Thu, 2005-12-01 00:22.

I was talking about a community which is both Matriarchal and Matrilineal. Matrilineal communities widely exist. Rarely Matriarchal communities are also there.

Thanks for doing a search and fetching data. It's helpful to provide an information base for the discussion. But still, this is not the primary area of concern. As Jay mentioned, this is an area of acadamics and a sidestream as far as our discussion is concerned.

Deepak

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 2010-10-13 23:07.

Read SundaraIyer, Sreedhara Warrior,EdgarThurston'sCastes and Tribes of Southern India(1871), C.A.Innes's Malabar Gazetter(1905)&Logan's Malabar Manual(1879) and comment on the M& M system or communities.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 2011-05-20 10:37.

From what i have read-

The matrilineal system was first seen among the namboodiris, later they reverted to patrilineal system. Later it reborn among nairs and a few other castes.

The matrilineal system was seen among the Muslims because they were converted Hindus. Actually, the hindu, christian and islam religions were introduced to Kerala society by outsiders. Dravidian culture was what prevailed. Kerala had a matrilineal culture but not matrilineal system.
One needs to know a little history to understand this.

The nair women did not enjoy what their male counterparts enjoyed. They were denied education. The only positive side was the matrilineal system, and it was for the wrong reasons as polyandry was the norm.